TVAM + JAPANESE TELEVISION + PYE CORNER AUDIO + OH MAMA + HOLY MAGICK + IMMERSION + HATTIE COOKE – ALL SAINTS CENTRE, LEWES 18.01.20
Well here we are again back at the popular Lewes Psychedelic Festival which is organised by Melting Vinyl and Innerstrings. Yesterday was a much more intimate affair up at the Westgate Chapel with Vanishing Twin, Wax Machine and Sleeping Creatures – read our review HERE.
Today, however, is a full on psychedelic onslaught being held at the lower end of town at the All Saints Centre, which is conveniently situated on Friars Walk, which is just around the corner from Lewes Railway Station and the Lewes Bus Station in the other direction. Although the Brighton & Hove News Music Team have reviewed concerts at the All Saints Centre before, this was actually my very first venture into the building. It immediately dawned on me that this is a perfect concert venue and I really don’t understand why there are not more frequent modern music concerts taking place here! Logistically it is perfect for those travelling into Lewes from Brighton, Seaford, Uckfield and so on. It is a good size venue with great acoustics and is certainly a Sussex hidden gem. Promoters take note!
There was a busy schedule on the cards today and sadly a couple of performances clashes as well. The East side doors of the venue swung open at 3pm and first up in the Small Psych room was Hattie Cooke at 3:15pm followed at 4:15pm by Immersion who we had previously witnessed live in Brighton last September – review HERE.
However, over the road in the compact Union Music Store, at 3:15pm they were hosting a set from Lucy Feliz, who decided to self record her first full length album ‘Ancestry’ in a church founded by her ancestors in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. Under the guise ‘LosFeliz’, the album was picked up by Union Music Label, and launched her into a solo tour of the UK and beyond. At 4:15pm it was the turn of Cuboza aka Jack Wolter from the Penelope Isles, who incidentally we had reviewed just two days prior at his Brighton gig – review HERE. Sadly something had to give and it was the latter two. However we did manage to catch up with Jack at the nearest watering hole, the Lansdown Arms, which is always popular with Brighton & Hove Albion fans before and after the games. Jack was buzzing from the performance and was later seen back in the All Saints Centre.
Expectations were high as Brighton based composer Hattie Cooke kicked off Saturday’s proceedings for the festival’s eleventh year. She has been writing and performing since the age of seventeen and has gained a reputation as a songwriter and has released her debut album on Third Kind Records in 2016 and her new platter ‘The Sleepers’ was dropped last November.
More renowned for her melancholic pop, the set did not disappoint, playing virtually all of her new album in its entirety back to back like a freight train rolling in with an ‘Aphex Twin’ nineties style score, meets urban style ‘Blade Runner’ film score. With a mellower start to the day, some members of the audience decided to lay down to take in the synth sounds in a meditative manner. The ‘Kraftwerk-esque’ sounds could have come straights from a ‘Twin Peaks’ movie set and hopes are up for more of the stylised compositions from her in the near future. Check out Hattie on Bandcamp HERE and her latest album HERE.
Hattie Cooke’s setlist reads:
‘Something’s Watching You’
Next up were Immersion, an electronic synth music project by Wire’s frontman Colin Newman and Malka Spiegel with more of a synth sound and cinematic visuals to boot. The duo having recently released the album ‘Sleepless’, with today’s Psych Fest event mainly showcasing some of the new tracks. Picking up the pace a notch and demonstrating how to produce an interesting, engaging 1970’ style vibe. The husband and wife duo, coming from different backgrounds demonstrate how work together in harmony. The ambience and mood Immersion, created was well worth coming down early, in order to get you in the right mood and feel good factor for the later afternoon bands in the main hall of All Saints Centre.
We should also (pink) flag up here that Colin and the guys from Wire, will be releasing their brand new album on Friday 24th January. It’s called ‘Mind Hive’ and the band will be signing copies of this exciting new release at Resident music on the same day – details HERE.
Immersion setlist reads:
‘Mechanical Creatures’ (from ‘Analogue Creatures Living On An Island’ album)
‘Microclimate’ (from ‘Sleepless’ album)
‘Living On An Island’ (from ‘Analogue Creatures Living On An Island’ album)
‘Hovertron’ (from ‘Sleepless’ album)
‘Defiance’ (new unreleased track)
‘Dahab’ (from ‘Low Impact’ album)
‘Off Grid’ (from ‘Sleepless’ album)
‘Io’ (from ‘Sleepless’ album)
‘Change Of Use’ (new unreleased track)
Visit Immersion’s website HERE.
The Main Psych room was a hive of activity from 6pm to 11pm, with no less than five DJ set’s of 15 to 25 minutes in between acts from Ollie Thomas of Brighton based Acid Box Promotions fame. This evening he was spinning a variety of garage rock, post-punk, psychedelia, heavy fuzz as well as some forays into electronic and world music. Ollie and his business partner Polly Miles sure do have a constant driving passion for underground and experimental music, making sure the free spirit of rock’n’roll is introduced and passed on to the next generation. See what I mean, by checking out their ‘Best of 2019’ Spotify playlist HERE.
First up were Brighton based sextet Holy Magick who (like three other acts this evening) were bathed in images like a giant lava lamp, courtesy of Innerstrings. Holy Magick are so named because that’s how its co-founder, producer and lead guitarist Dom Keen (ex Death in Vegas, Dark Horses) deems music itself: Holy – to be revered, wondered at; and Magick – its potency laying in unknowable forces, esoteric powers beyond the everyday that cast spells on all of us. The remaining 5 members of Holy Magick this evening are Lewis on rhythm guitar, Luis on bass, Steve on drums, Thom on keys and Siobhan on vox.
Their 29 minute, five tune set began with ‘Makes No Sense’ which has a long intro which is eventually accompanied by Siobhan’s relaxing vocals, which could arguably be likened to Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane). Thom’s Roland VK-7 keyboard was giving off decent sounds along with Dom and Lewis’s guitars, Luis’s bass and Steve’s drums. This opener gave off a distinct vibe of memories of distant English summers. The following number, ‘Giants’, was more uptempo and had that psychedelic old-style Hammond organ sound. The third number, ‘Trivia’, benefited from nice distortion care of one of the guitarists, who broke a string in the process. The barefooted Siobhan and her five male pals delivered seriously good acid fuzz sounds. Listen to their music on Spotify HERE and Bandcamp HERE releases and they have a second album coming out in the spring/early summer, so keep your eyes peeled.
Holy Magick setlist reads:
‘Makes No Sense’
Find them on Twitter.
Next up at 6:57pm were Oh Mama, who performed a 43 minute set rammed with “psychodelicious blues rock and the spontaneous drizzle of funk”. This five piece which consists of Beth Lees (vocals, guitar, flute), Ella Russell (vocals, guitar, flute), Max Gibson (lead guitar), Todd Cowell (bass guitar) and Toma Sapir (drums/percussion), offer up psychedelia in its purest form and I have to seriously flag up the perfectly in synch vocals from Beth and Ella, which was astounding! Synchronisation possibly not witnessed by yours truly since enjoying the talents of Lesley-Anne Farmer (aka Giles) and Samantha Swanson of long forgotten Hey! Elastica who I saw at Xtreems (the New Regent in Brighton) many moons ago.
As well as the girls vocal duties, they both at times played guitar and flute and as the previous band, they too were barefoot, although their dress style were rather contrasting, Ella’s seemed similar to a Bulgarian folk costume, whereas Beth’s was more sassy-hippy. The three lads were on guitar, bass and drum duty. I seem to recognise the drummer Toma, who I believe was on the stix last night for Wax Machine up at the Westgate Chapel as well.
Oh Mama convince you that you are back on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York on 15th to 18th August 1969 – ‘Woodstock’. There was tons of wah wah guitar-work going on tonight with their prog psych folk sound, which was of the highest order. I suspect that John Peel would have loved them if they had been around before the emergence of punk. I wonder what the spark was that got these youngsters into playing this style of sound as they were clearly not born when it initially came out.
Catch their headline show in Brighton at The Prince Albert on Friday 28th February. Also on the bill will be Dog Of Man, The Syamisenist and Gurf – tickets HERE.
Oh Mama setlist reads:
‘Talk To God’ (cover of GOAT song)
‘Walk On Child’
‘Song In Dm’ (working title)
‘Song In Am’ (working title)
Check out their website HERE.
I was busy gassing with folks at the front of the venue (with my back to the stage) about decent bands such as TR/ST and Antipole, when I suddenly realised that the swirling electronic soundscapes were not actually emanating from the Acid Box decks, but were coming from the raised stage behind me. I turned to face the stage and there was one guy, Martin Jenkins, aka Pye Corner Audio who was clothed in khaki combat gear as a one-man Einstürzende Neubauten or SPK, complete with long fronted cap, so you couldn’t see his face. He couldn’t see us either. Was he shy? Did he want to be in his bedroom alone with his bank of electronic knobs to twiddle? Did he need to totally concentrate and absorb himself? I think so.
His sound was in stark contrast to what we had previously witnessed. Here was a live John Carpenter soundtrack that ambled along with a tinge of menacing undercurrent that was just waiting to run at you with a knife. It was swirly electronic music and the first booming thumping beat finally arrived after 15 minutes and how I wish there had been more of this part of his show. An example of what I mean is ‘Northern Safety Route’ listen HERE. After 23 minutes we finally had the first human voices as part of the set, which was magicked up from one of the insitu black boxes. Ten minutes later at 8:33pm it was all over. He came, he tweaked, he left!
Check out Pye Corner Audio’s many releases on Bandcamp HERE, especially the highly enjoyable ‘Stars Shine Like Eyes’ album.
A mere 12 minutes later and at 8:45pm we were off again. This time around it was the turn of London based quartet Japanese Television, who consist of Ian Thorn (keys), Tim Jones (guitar), Alex Lawton (bass) and Al Brown (drums). Tim and Alex notably hang their instruments on a short strap, thus being akin to IDLES Mark ‘Bobo’ Bowen as opposed to low slung Peter Hook.
Japanese Television rose from the ashes of three psychedelic rock bands, who formed with a shared vision of creating a modern psychedelic space-surf-soundscape.They refer to themselves as “UK’s no. 2 Space-Surf band”. Blimey, who’s No.1 then? As their 40 minute ten tune instrumental space-surf set was most enjoyable. Track two ‘Hot Sauce’ most certainly gives a nod or two to The Cure and New Order. We were fortunate enough to be the very first audience to hear song four which was ‘Moon Glider’.
I liked the case standing at the rear of the stage which was emblazoned with their take on the old ATV logo. It sat well with their slightly fuzzy swinging Instrumental beats. Surf was up and there was even a ‘Silver Machine’ style track on offer which was terrific. Their keyboard led fuzz was highly evident on their penultimate number ‘Crocodile Dentist’, (which is available on their July 2019 six track 12” EP ‘JTV II’) and sounded like Moon Duo and L’Épée. The band have recorded a live session for Marc Riley on BBC 6 Music, who said of them “Mindbending and Brilliant”. Excited punters here this evening might like to know that their debut album will follow in summer 2020.
Don’t worry if you missed their great set, as you can catch them live in Brighton on Saturday 15th February, when they play The Hope & Ruin along with Melt Plastic Group and The Psycho Relics – tickets HERE.
Japanese Television setlist reads:
‘3 Ball Plant’
Twelve minutes later than planned, it was now time for the headliners TVAM led by Joe Oxley to take to the stage to perform their very enjoyable 46 minute set.
I was fortunate to have witnessed Joe as a solo performer back in 2017, when he appeared upstairs at Patterns in Brighton on Friday 19th May as part of The Great Escape new music festival. Back then I reported:
“TVAM (13:30-14:00 Patterns Upstairs). TVAM is actually just one bloke who goes by the name of Joe Oxley, who hails from north west England. Joe was back in Brighton, having performed at Sticky Mikes Frog Bar in January. His next gig sounds rather interesting as it is at Jodrell Bank with Orbital. Joe plays his distorted guitar to synth backing whilst accompanied by his trusty VHS video player. We were treated to visions of crash test dummies, spacemen and the like, whilst musically you can hear the influence of Suicide, Moon Duo (again), Sigue Sigue Sputnik and early Gary Numan synths on the best track Porsche Majeure”.
I hadn’t stumbled across Joe on the day of The Great Escape, I had ‘found’ him months before, when the list of acts is announced! Here was one set I wasn’t going to miss. It was one of two Great Escape performances and the other clashed with another must see artist and so my TVAM debut was sealed.
Tonight, the All Saints Centre was now rammed and Wigan born electro-psych vocalist/guitarist man/machine Joe, had brought along three chums, Jason (keys/laptop), Andrew (drums) and birthday boy Sean (bass), as his solo act, just like Brighton based former one man band Young Francis (now Young Francis Hi-Fi), has morphed into a quartet. Thus Joe now tours with a full band and TVAM gigs blur the boundary between art and performance; via a large television sitting on an 80’s secondary school-style podium, a VHS video recorder projects long-forgotten Mondo movies alongside vintage footage often sourced from hours spent poring through charity shop shelves. The vocals appear on the screen in time with Joe and thus the Innerstrings lava lamp visuals were given a rest during this set.
Thankfully, this evening’s performance was an expanded version of his previously witnessed concert and I was most certainly lapping it up right down the front. Joe had self-produced and home-recorded his debut album ‘Psychic Data’, which delivers circa thirty-six and a half minutes of pure joy and we were treated to no less than 7 of the 10 tracks found on this platter. Whilst watching the set, I pick up on many nods of other acts that I enjoy, there’s Stone Roses and Primal Scream style vocals overladen with Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Suicide (‘Psychic Data’). There’s the very heavy Gary Numan-esque bass synth sound (‘We Like Fires’) and still my fave (‘Porsche Majeure’), there’s Numan mixed with Nine Inch Nails (‘Bitplain’) that would certainly keep Ade Fenton most happy. The distortion found on ‘Gas And Air’ reminded me of very early Cabaret Voltaire, and the drumming led ‘No Explanations’, certainly threw up the Jesus And Mary Chain comparison.
Track 8 was ‘These Are Not Your Memories’ which is a powerful tune, but it is strangely accompanied by a mid-80’s style male haircuts video, which didn’t seem to match, although, I did remember it from the previous show, so I suppose it’s done its job. The following number was a cover of the 1968 psychedelic ‘No Silver Bird’ by The Hooterville Trolley, and the final number of the night was ‘Total Immersion’ which most definitely reminded me of motorik Kraftwerk beats. At two minutes to eleven, that was it! The end of another Lewes Psychedelic Festival – roll on next year!
TVAM setlist reads:
‘We Like Fires’
‘Gas And Air’
‘These Are Not Your Memories’
‘No Silver Bird’ (The Hooterville Trolley cover)
More about TVAM HERE.
Read our account of Day 1 of Lewes Psychedelic Festival HERE.
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